An anti-abortion speaker brought to Creighton’s campus by Creighton Students for Life drew a group of silent protesters outside the Heider College of Business, holding signs that read, “Step out of your privilege” and “Her body, her choice.”
Kristan Hawkins, a grassroots activist and the president of Students for Life of America, came and spoke in the Harper Auditorium on Thursday, Nov. 14.
Her speech, titled “Make Abortion Illegal Again,” discussed landmark abortion cases such as Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, occupational licensing reform, the history of the abortion industry, premarital sex and contraceptives, and the healthcare system and medical care providers.
Frequently referring to abortion as a human rights issue rather than a political one, Hawkins stated the goal of the pro-life movement is twofold: “make abortion illegal” and “make abortion unthinkable.”
“What we fight for is the creation of a different America, a peaceful America, an America where once again, every woman, every person in the womb is seen as equal, equally valuable,” Hawkins said.
She said abortion is a black and white issue and referred to it as “the killing of innocent babies.”
When challenged in the question and answer session after her speech about the idea of female autonomy, she said, “Your autonomy stops when it harms someone else’s body ... this is why at hospitals, you can’t smoke in the entrance.”
She said that a child’s life shouldn’t be ended based on the convenience of his/her mother, and that the argument that the procedure deals with the woman’s body doesn’t fully encapsulate the operation.
“Abortion deals with two bodies ... the baby’s life is equally as important as yours,” she said.
Hawkins was upfront about her staunch anti-abortion views, and confronted opposing views head on. She even posed for photos with her protesters outside prior to her lecture.
The Rev. Peter Nguyen, S.J., an assistant professor of theology at Creighton, attended the speech and said the dialogue was beneficial to the student body.
“We, as a community, need to engage in discussions that polarize the nation,” Nguyen said. “We have to learn how to engage, debate and persuade others of the truth.”
Anne Marie Backer, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, attended the silent protest outside Harper to “advocate for a position that many Creighton students feel is not adequately represented in campus organizations.”
“While I am inspired by the students who asked questions and engaged in dialogue with the speaker, I wish that Creighton would permit a reproductive rights group to be officially recognized by the university,” Backer said. “Representing only one side of an issue that lay Catholics are split on is eva- sive. I believe true dialogue arises from civil conversion from people of both ideologies.”
She added that it seems to her that “Catholics have a hard time recognizing the diversity of opinions within their own church,” but that she thought Hawkins was respectful toward the protesters.
Sydney Westphal, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, also attended the silent protest, and said she supports abortion rights because she believes it is unethical to regulate another individual’s body.
“It is inconsistent with Creighton’s mission to allow one group to shed light on their beliefs without allowing the other,” Westphal said. “Dialogue cannot happen if only one group is allowed on campus, which is happening at this point and time. I appreciated that Creighton allowed us to protest, and by attending this protest I stand by the women who don’t have a choice on when they get pregnant and are silenced.”
Keyton Pappas, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, attended the lecture as a member of Creighton Students for Life.
“I thought she portrayed a great argument that applied to many people, not just the believers in the pro-life movement,” Pappas said. “She had valid points and facts to back it up and she obviously was extremely passionate about it as she got fired up at many points during the presentation.”
He said that he was shocked at the intensity level of the question and answer session after the speech.
“I was surprised how Kristan Hawkins shut many of the students down with their questions, especially after the rules of the Q&A were read,” Pappas said. “However, some of the students were hostile towards her.”
He added that he believes a debate between the anti-abortion and abortion rights movements “would be kind of cool for Creighton to put on.”
The president of Creighton Students for Life and a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, Sara Woods, said that she was “quite disappointed” in the protest that occurred.
“It took Creighton Students for Life five weeks to get this event approved, yet this protest was seemingly approved immediately,” Woods said. “Furthermore, because Creighton is a Catholic university, it is a pro-life university, and it is not supposed to sanction any pro-abortion policies or events on campus.”
She referenced a policy from Creighton’s student handbook, which can be found on the university’s website, that states, “The University reaffirms the sanctity and inviolability of human life and vigorously opposes abortion as a morally acceptable option for unwanted pregnancies, and it expects any use of its name, facilities, and resources to reflect its position.”
In regards to Hawkins’ speech, Woods said that it was most effective that Hawkins was able to explain how both chemical and surgical abortions are performed while citing sources.
“The way in which she explained how this happens conveyed the harsh reality of abortion to the audience,” Woods said.
She concluded with the fact that she thought the question and answer session was “civil” and she hopes that “those who asked questions benefited from the conversation.”